This year, we will be writing blog posts according to a chosen theme for each month. To start of the year, we will be exploring mental health in the black community. The following video is one I made as part of my digital portfolio for my Masters in Journalism. I decided to take the opportunity to create a short video in October 2016, about this particular issue.
Why is mental health in the black community still a taboo? Why can’t we just talk about it?
White people named the illness, so we are sceptical of it, as we are about most things white people come up with, as it never tends to include melanated people… So instead, we just see it as a ‘white people thing.’ Well it’s not, and it’s time we acknowledged this.
We need to study and research it more ourselves, and really understand what it means to have a mental illness and what caused it. We’ve got no excuse not to when research has shown that black people are more likely to suffer from a mental health illness, as a consequence of racism, discrimination, poverty, economical inequalities – to name a few. This is what is causing our minds to suffer. It is not the devil or an evil spirit, as Afro-Caribbean parents tend to say this A LOT.. No it is not! But it is the breakdown of our spiritual, emotional and mental nature, by the system and society we are currently living in.
Parents and elders, understand that the majority of our younger generation were not born back home. We were born here, which means our lifestyle differs from what it would be if we were back home. Back home is stress free. There are nearby beaches to relax – no yoga or calming therapy needed, nature’s got you.
There is unlimited sunshine, which we need to charge and maintain our melanin with for good health in general. This is why we are happier during the summer months but feel down during the colder months. But most important of all, back home you have a COMMUNITY CIRCLE. A common African proverb is “it takes a village to raise a child”, but what village do we have here in the UK? Our families are scattered all over the place. And what time do we even have these days to visit each other on a regular basis? What time do we even have to TALK TO EACH OTHER about how we feel or what’s going on in our lives good or bad?
The lifestyle set-up here is not for us at all, Spiritually, psychically, emotionally AND mentally speaking. Go back home and do you even see mental health there? The same way you don’t see people dying of heart disease because the food is fresh and non-processed. Come to the UK and you see more fast food and processed food than I eat jollof.
So what can we do to change the narrative?
There are services out there which cater to melanated needs, which the NHS has failed to commit to. Make an effort to approach these services because they are here to help – and they are us, as only we can understand each other. But, before getting there, there is one thing we must do first. We must talk to each other. Brother to brother, sister to siter and brother to sister. Young generation and old. Seek, learn, teach. It is the role of the elders to pass on vital knowledge to the generations below, well now, the younger generation have something to teach their parents and elders, because it is affecting them and they need the support AND understanding of a village more than ever.
We need to stop the stigma of mental health in the black community, and stay silent no-more.
Mental Health Services:
Mental Health resources:
- Black Mental Health UK
- Mental Health Crisis Care: commissioning excellence for Black and Minority Ethnic groups
- Black and Minority Ethnic people are short changed by mental health services
Know your rights: